Neil Lennon: Celtic 'baby steps' hearten manager after 3-2 win over Lille

Celtic match winner David Turnbull is congratulated by Neil Lennon
Celtic match winner David Turnbull was praised by Neil Lennon

Celtic's Europa League win over Lille has been described as "baby steps in the right direction" by manager Neil Lennon after a poor run of results.

The Scottish Premiership side finished bottom of their section despite earning their first win in the group stage.

Lennon hopes to build on that 3-2 success against Kilmarnock on Sunday - a game his side "have to win" given they are 13 points behind Rangers.

"It is a positive - nothing more, nothing less," he said.

"We've beaten a very good team. We played well and played with real vigour.

"Psychologically, it gives everyone a lift. And it gives a bit more respectability to the group as well."

Reigning champions Celtic return to the domestic scene with a points deficit to address, albeit with two games in hand on their city rivals.

That position that has led the club's board to give their backing to Lennon despite fan protests.

"It's not been an ideal situation, but I have a firm belief in what we are doing here and a firm belief in the players as well," he said.

"This isn't over even though people are writing us off."

David Turnbull responded to being handed his second start by scoring the winner and having a hand in both of the other goals.

Fellow midfielder Ismaila Soro earned his first start, replacing captain Scott Brown in the midfield holding role, while goalkeeper Conor Hazard made his Celtic debut.

"They've done well enough to merit their place in the team, as have some of the others," Lennon said. "It shows that we have decent competition. It gives me food for thought for Sunday as well."

Asked why Turnbull, a £3m summer signing from Motherwell, had not played more, Lennon suggested it takes time for players to get used to Celtic's methods.

The 21-year-old also missed a spell after contracting Covid-19.

The manager also revealed that Hazard, who had loan spells with Falkirk, Partick Thistle and Dundee, had been promised a start in this game a couple of weeks ago as "he's been training really well".

"There's a long way to go in the season, but we have to use this now as a catalyst to a real consistency in wins," Lennon added.

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